This wildlife travel guide is meant to be like a trailer for the new Attenborough series. Because we also have individual travel guides for more specific wildlife vacations, such as our safaris, bear watching and whale watching. The travel guide below gives you the perfect introduction to getting your head around the extraordinary life on earth, and where to go to find it.
Whale watching travel guide
There is something mysterious and almost mystical about whales. Thanks to their epic migrations, their phenomenally deep dives, their great age and the virtual impossibility of keeping them in captivity there are still many mysteries surrounding these great mammals of the sea. Yet still, due perhaps to their immense intelligence, their strong social bonds and their gentle nature despite their mammoth size, many people feel a strange connection to whales, and seeing them in the wild can be a virtually spiritual experience.
Imagine seeing something the size of a house, over a century old, singing, suckling and spinning beneath you in the middle of a sparkling sea.
Sadly, for many people, their whale vacation involves seeing orcas in "dolphinariums" - small swimming pools far from their natural habitat. Seeing these wise, wild creatures perform circus tricks for fish is, in our opinion, one of the cruellest forms of "entertainment", and gives no insight into their natural behaviour, their social interactions or their charming curiosity - the characteristics which make them so appealing to us in the first place. In our opinion the only place to see whales is in their own, natural home, whether that be the poles or the tropics. You may not always get as close, but you'll feel a much greater connection.
Our Whale watching Vacations
Is a whale watching vacation for you?
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If you'd like to chat about Whale watching or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
What does whale watching entail?
Whale watching vacations are as diverse as the locations that host them. From Alaska to Africa, Scotland to Sri Lanka, the species you will see and the conditions you will see them in vary greatly - so it's important to have an idea of the kind of vacation you want, and to share this with your tour operator.
Live aboard trips are much more intense; you'll be in close contact with 12 or 16 other passengers, with little flexibility in terms of schedules. However, this will completely immerse you in ocean life, with the chance to get far from land, so for the right kind of passenger this could be the marine adventure of a lifetime.
During research trips, you'll learn to identify whales, monitor their behaviour and enter data into a computer. You'll also be up early, and take turns to navigate, clean the ship and cook - so this is not a vacation for the workshy. However, you'll be contributing to vital research and are sure to learn a lot and make friends along the way.
Land-based tours involve daily boat trips - sometimes with a different focus for each excursion: different types of whales, marine life or birds. You may be able to anchor on remote islets, hike around the shore and get involved in local community life during the evenings. These are more relaxing and slower paced vacations - with the chance to combine marine and land-based wildlife watching.
More about Whale watching
Click on the months on our interactive map below to see the best time to go whale watching around the world - including when to see blue whale.
Some places are far more reliable for whale encounters than others. Our interactive map reveals where to go whale watching - and also when.
When planning a whale watching vacation, a great way start is by finding out about the different whale species - and what you can see, where and when.
Whale watching with kids is a sure way to bring out your child's inner marine biologist, and plant a love of the ocean that could last a lifetime.
At least 15 species of whale visit this Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic at various times of year.
Grey whale watching in Baja can be a very intimate wildlife encounter. But is it harmful? We spoke to a renowned marine biologist to find out.
‘Skipper Extraordinaire’, Charles Wara believes the Norwegian fjords north of Tromsø are the best place in the world to admire killer whales in the wild.
The southern coast around Galle and Mirissa is the place to go in search of responsible blue whale watching in Sri Lanka. Be prepared for magic.
We've spoken to whale watching experts around the world to learn their whale watching tips, and how to make the most of a whale watching vacation.
We've outlined the reasons why we think that keeping whales in captivity is wrong, in partnership with the World Cetacean Alliance.
How to pick an ethical operator? for a whale watching vacation? We discuss responsible tourism issues around whale watching in the wild.